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Author Topic: Is the practice of shamanism a 'pagan religion'?  (Read 7129 times)
RandallS
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« Reply #15: August 03, 2008, 09:10:53 pm »

The problem with that is that Buddhism and Hinduism aren't really "Pagan" religions, at least not in any way that's meaningful w/r/t discussions of the modern Pagan movement. (And, yes, I realize that many Pagans incorporate Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, but that's not quite the same thing.)

And I can't think of any Hindu or Buddhist religious leaders who say their religion is "Pagan."
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« Reply #16: August 03, 2008, 09:58:18 pm »

And I can't think of any Hindu or Buddhist religious leaders who say their religion is "Pagan."

Nor of any actual practitioners of those religions.  By practitioners I mean those that follow the religion itself, as opposed to those who use elements of those religions in their own spiritual/religious worship/practice.

I have seen cases where someone tried to lump those religions in with paganism, and well sometimes it isn't very pretty.  Hehe, I like the part of the TC definition that states "those who self-identify as pagans".  It's a perfect disclaimer.
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« Reply #17: August 04, 2008, 07:17:15 pm »

Hi all! I'm not new, but since making a small amount of posts a long while ago I have not posted since. However I thought I would call in on the site again and see what people were typing.

This is something I find a little interesting as I have been performing shamanic practices for a few years now. I am in touch with my local Pagan community too and regularly attend the monthly moots and any group rituals that take place (not coven based). My idea of the path which I follow is very loosely based and for the most part, although I could not say in any quantity, is based in that which people say or that I have read is Shamanistic practice, on that note I have not read a great deal about and actually have not heard too much said about what a Shaman is/does.

I can tell you though that the Pagan community are very accepting of my path and it seems are very accepting of all alternative paths. By my experience of Pagans, they are very tolerant people who say little in the way of belittling or ostracizing any religious path no matter what it is or even if it is opposed to them. That being the case, if it is the concern of the person who created this thread that if they are/were to be following a shaman path they might not be accepted then, from my experience, you have nothing to worry about.

I would also like to comment on the given definition of the Shaman for the use of this thread. Such a definition might lead people to believe that it is not actually shamanism that you are interested in but more that you are interested in diversions from reality. It is my understanding that the shaman lives as much in the real world/state of mind as he does travel other planes/induce other states of consciousness through whatever means deemed to be appropriate. Problems are solved by the shaman not only on alternative planes of existence but also on the plane which you wake to everyday.

Blessings!

Foreseer
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« Reply #18: August 05, 2008, 03:24:33 am »

I would also like to comment on the given definition of the Shaman for the use of this thread. Such a definition might lead people to believe that it is not actually shamanism that you are interested in but more that you are interested in diversions from reality.
I have not had the opportunity to look at this thread I started (work beckons and all), and am pleasantly surprised at the response. Foreseer, you are very close to what I am interested in. In the interest of being more exact, I would say I personally am not interested so much in "diversions from reality" as using the tool of the Shaman to help both my friends and myself. The term 'diversion' has a casualness I am uncomfortable with. Perhaps you can explain a little more what you mean so I can correct my understanding? I suspected my definition would be met with much debate. That is why I used the phrase  'shamanistic', from which I wish to imply the practice is like that of the shaman, but not (with respect to his/her belief structure). Without delving to deep off subject, the study of ontology has led some to adopt the "private language argument". I believe in a real sense that language is a poor way of expressing our alien-like (with respect to others) thoughts to others. Unfortunately it is the only way. As Wittgenstein refers to "impressing the connection on myself" (as quoted by Candlish) we in a real way view 'our definition' myoptically.

I am quite interested in the shaman's practice of entering alternate realities via their long established processes. I submit that shaman's (and others) use a process that is inherent in human nature to enter these alternate realities. I believe these processes are absolutely not religious in nature, but are used by specific religious cultures (such as those identified correctly by RandallS) to provide a valuable service to their community. Unlike RandallS, I have not a specific term for these processes other than 'shamanistic'. Hmmm....what would you name such a process? The question I ask then is one similar to what one may say of prayer, is it specifically only a religious practice or is it an extension of the human capacity. It is my opinion that 'shamanistic' practices are the opposite image of prayer. 'Shamanistic' practices, I believe, are as natural as eating, walking, etc to the human being; whereas prayer is faith based and is specific to the use in religion.

I am a christian. The exploration of this subject for me is an attempt to make sure I am following a human beings natural capacity. I think one can divorce oneself from the religious aspect of the shaman's process of entering an alternate state of reality from the pagan or religious aspect (though I absolutely deny any value judgement of any non-christian religion. I have experience to much to make such foolishness). This is the direction of my question. 
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« Reply #19: August 05, 2008, 03:48:52 am »

I am a christian. The exploration of this subject for me is an attempt to make sure I am following a human beings natural capacity. I think one can divorce oneself from the religious aspect of the shaman's process of entering an alternate state of reality from the pagan or religious aspect (though I absolutely deny any value judgement of any non-christian religion. I have experience to much to make such foolishness). This is the direction of my question. 

I think the term you are looking for based on what you said earlier in the post is "shamin practices" rather than "shamanistic practice".  The reason being that what you describe above falls under the umbrella of certain shamanic practices, rather than being specifically the experience of total shamanistic practice.  Does that make any sense?

As to whether or not you can incorporate shamanic practices into religions outside of those to which they are/were originally geared, I think the answer is yes.  You can induce altered states of perception, you can communicate with spirits, etc. whether or not you are a shaman.  As to whether or not these practices can be used within the context of the christian religion depends on two things:

1.  Which of the practices you wish to incorporate, and
2.  Which denomination you follow (if any), and whether or not it is implicitly forbidden in that group, or if it is implied that you are forbidden to do so, or if it is kind of one of those grey areas, that you REALLY shouldn't, but...

Think about those two questions and you will have your answer.  I know the Bible itself mentions the use of some shamanic practices, at least by the prophets, if not others.  So, Christianity and Judaism aren't completely incompatible with these practices, but various groups have their own ideas of what is appropriate or not.  I would basically tread softly, at least until you know for sure.

Anyway, good luck.  I hope this helped, at least a little bit.  And I hope you can find what exactly it is you are looking for.
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« Reply #20: August 05, 2008, 06:40:19 am »

Foreseer, you are very close to what I am interested in. In the interest of being more exact, I would say I personally am not interested so much in "diversions from reality" as using the tool of the Shaman to help both my friends and myself. The term 'diversion' has a casualness I am uncomfortable with. Perhaps you can explain a little more what you mean so I can correct my understanding?

I am quite interested in the shaman's practice of entering alternate realities via their long established processes. Hmmm....what would you name such a process?

The question I ask then is one similar to what one may say of prayer, is it specifically only a religious practice or is it an extension of the human capacity?

I am a christian. The exploration of this subject for me is an attempt to make sure I am following a human beings natural capacity. I think one can divorce oneself from the religious aspect of the shaman's process of entering an alternate state of reality from the pagan or religious aspect (though I absolutely deny any value judgement of any non-christian religion. I have experience to much to make such foolishness). This is the direction of my question. 

I apologise, your answer allays my doubts of your intention. What I was actually proposing is that you might have been more interested in the use of certain plants than interested in the actual practice with any level of respect.

What the Shaman does has been studied greatly over the years and from culture to culture it's involvement has different names. When an altered state is induced in this type of practice Western culture refers to it as "journey work of the Shaman".

Be careful here with your studies, especially as you are Christian. You might not be aware but Shamans worldwide have been persecuted by Christian authorities for hundreds of years. Traditional Christian perception of the Shaman is that they interact with demons, devils and evil spirits! Modern and Classical Western culture holds the Shaman as being mentally ill with the common diagnosis being that a Shaman is Schizophrenic. Maybe this is actually the answer you are looking for as doctors and scientists will tell you that what a Shaman experiences/does is well within the human capacity, the human capacity of mental illness.

If you would prefer to stay within Christian boundaries I believe the nearest practice you will find of the type you are looking for is that of a Pentecostal/Evangelist religious service.

Blessings

Foreseer
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« Reply #21: August 05, 2008, 11:44:27 pm »

The problem with that is that Buddhism and Hinduism aren't really "Pagan" religions, at least not in any way that's meaningful w/r/t discussions of the modern Pagan movement. (And, yes, I realize that many Pagans incorporate Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, but that's not quite the same thing.)

"Anything not JCI" could also include atheists, Scientologists, Cao Dai ... it's simply too broad.


As Randall has said, Buddhists and such don't call themselves Pagans, so aren't really covered by the term. I wouldn't tell someone that they are Pagan if they don't want to use the word to describe themselves. Yes, certain groups would be covered by the term under that definition, except they don't consider themselves Pagan.


Ack! ACK! Scientologists! I won't get started. It wouldn't be pleasant or conducive to rational debate. I generally try to be open-minded and tolerant of all beliefs, but I can't be in regards to a cult mentality started by a science fiction writer who publicly stated that if one wanted to make a lot of money, one should start a religion. Can't do it. My sensible mind reels.


Also, I wouldn't argue that Atheists couldn't describe themselves as Pagan.
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« Reply #22: August 05, 2008, 11:56:23 pm »


Your definition did not SAY any of those things; your definition in your post said "anything not JCI." As I am not a mind-reader, I took you at your word. AFAIK, "anything not JCI" includes rutabagas.
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« Reply #23: August 06, 2008, 03:07:50 am »

If you would prefer to stay within Christian boundaries I believe the nearest practice you will find of the type you are looking for is that of a Pentecostal/Evangelist religious service.

Pentecost/Evangelist?!? AAAARG!  Shocked Uhhmmh, beg pardon. I have journeyed into the underworld in an altered state of consciousness. I suspect the PEs would have a coronary to suggest they do the same. My experiences there have been amazing. I pretty much do the Harner approach and have a 100% journey rate. I do not use drugs of any type (save the occasional adult beverage or three, and when I do drink, I do not attempt a journey). This is not to belittle the use of the various 'plants' in use, but is rather a deep concern and care the experience I have is not caused by any type of hallucinegenic.

I appreciate the candor my questions have been answered with. I think the concensus here is that the shamans way of journeying is not religious per se'. If you folks would indulge me to pursue Foreseer's train of thought... My thinking is that the shamin (to quote someone here) or shamanistic journeying is a healthy means for people to address various issues in our life. I think that most religious practices related to meditation and prayer are weak and ineffectual counterfits of this practice. In effect 'drawing nigh with lips but denying the power therein'. Any comments would be appreciated. This discussion has been very fruitful...
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